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Less than two weeks until 2007 election

October 29, 2007

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

In less than two weeks, voters will take to the polls and decide the direction Delano Schools will head in the next few years.

Delano School Board approved a resolution calling for an election this fall for additional operating funds, as well as funds for the construction of a grades 4-6 elementary building.

At the polls Tuesday, Nov. 6, voters will see three questions on the ballot. The first is a proposed increase of general education revenue by $285 per pupil.

Presently, the student levy is at $425, and the increase of $285 would bring the district to $710, which is the anticipated state average for 2007-08, Sweet said.

“Those dollars will be used primarily to finance the operation of a new 4-6 building,” Sweet said. This will include utilities, snow removal, lawn maintenance, garbage hauling, health and safety, property insurance, custodian wages and benefits, secretaries, media center, paraprofessional, and computer/lab support. Other staffing positions will be added as enrollment increases.

The second question would be contingent upon the first question’s approval by voters, and would authorize the district to issue general obligation school bonds to primarily fund land acquisition and construction of a 4-6 elementary building with a capacity of 625 students.

Also included would be the remodeling of space in the high school to add science classrooms; additional space for middle/high school music; security upgrades to all buildings; carpet replacement at the elementary building; upgrades to the middle school auditorium; added physical education fields; re-crowning of the football field; parking at the elementary building; additional car parking for the high school (200 spaces); bus parking; and other associated costs.

The third question would be contingent upon approval of the first two, and would ask voters to issue general obligation school bonds for an additional field, synthetic turf field, upgrades to community education, and air conditioning in the cardio and weight room.

Sweet said the school district has continued to experience an increase in enrollment since the last building project in 2002, when an addition to the elementary school was added, along with an addition to the high school and middle school. From 2002 through the beginning of this school year, enrollment has increased by nearly 400 students.

It is estimated that on a $272,500 tax-valued home, an annual increase of approximately $346.36 will occur if voters approve all three questions. The cost of ballot question two is 29,030,000, and the cost of ballot question three is $810,000.

Polling places for the Tuesday, Nov. 6 election will be the Delano Middle School, Loretto Fire Station, and Independence City Hall.

The Facility Advisory Committee and school board have also discussed what the next building project would be in 2017, and the consensus of opinion was that a 6-8 middle school would be the next step, depending on how growth patterns occur, Sweet said.

This building would be built somewhere away from the current campus as the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) will not approve any further building on the existing site. MDE site requirements for a middle school are “25 to 35 acres plus one additional acre for each 100 students of estimated student enrollment . . . ”

The option would also exist to add on to the existing buildings if growth patterns vary from what is projected. The 4-6 building will be designed to be expanded, as well.

“The other option, rather than going off site with 6-8, is if the growth patterns slow down, we could still go back to building on to the high school and middle school,” Sweet said. “We could build onto that 4-6, and do a little bit yet with the elementary building. That would be another option for the future if growth slows. Right now, our growth is stronger in the middle school and the high school.”

Sweet said that growth is from the influx of students who attend private school up until grades six or eight, and enter public school in grades seven and nine.

For more election information, visit Sweet’s web site at www.delano.k12.mn.us. Click the “election information” link from the homepage.

Three questions to be on election ballot

1. Increase the operating levy by $285 per pupil.

2. General obligation bonds to provide funds for land acquisition and construction of a grade 4-6 elementary building.

3. Additional physical education/athletic field, and synthetic turf on the football field, among other improvements.

Informational meetings to take place this week

• Monday, Oct. 29 – Delano Middle School 7 p.m.

• Tuesday, Oct. 30 – Independence City Hall 7 p.m.

Absentee ballots available at school office

Applications for absentee ballots are available at the Delano School District office. You may receive an application by phone by calling (763) 972-3365 ext. 2111, or by mail at 700 Elm Avenue East, Delano MN 55328.

Once the application is reviewed and registration status is confirmed, you can either vote absentee at the school district office or return your ballot via US mail to the district office. All absentee ballots must be received by Election Day.